Thoughts on the realities behind Watch Dogs 2, by Thomas Geffroyd, Brand Content Director
“From ARPANET to the Internet, from the early stages of the web to web 2.0, from our noisy modems to the smartphone that never leaves our side. Digital technology has invaded every aspect of our daily lives, changed our way of living and our way of seeing the world. But as with any era of evolution, it is difficult to find distance from it and evaluate its true impacts.
Watch Dogs wants to evaluate these changes and reveal what escapes us and what is hidden behind the curtain of technology. For more than seven years, our team has observed, met and questioned the agents of this important change. Watch Dogs 2 is the result of those observations, between reflection and case study, reality and forecast.
This is what brought us to explore San Francisco and the Silicon Valley, the epicentre of these developments. But essentially to confront this philosophy of ‘making the world a better place’ and the effects it has on our lives. When the product of two of the largest companies in the world is simply data formed from continuous surveillance of their users, it becomes imperative to ask ourselves what this implies for the present and the future.
The data points of our personal information grow numerous and are not limited to our use of Internet, but have invaded our physical lives as well. We went from ‘Big Brother’ to a multitude of ‘little brothers’ who have two objectives: to modify our behaviour patterns on a grand scale (trackers in your car, on your wrist, email reminders) and to anticipate our needs in order to satisfy them (advertising and selling.)
But data is easy to move, to sell. Our connected fridge can interest our medical insurance company. Our data on e-commerce platforms are likely to interest our bank, which could then deny us a mortgage due to impulsive online purchases. There are no shortage of examples.
The data economy is a reality which exists outside our or any political control.
While the ‘Hacker Manifesto‘ (the founding text of the hacking culture) is thirty years old today, it has never been more accurate. Hackers, given their social tendencies, and hacktivists are playing a central role not only in our understanding of the new reality, but also in opening our eyes to it. Marcus and DedSec, much like groups such as Anonymous or Telecomix, individuals like Snowden or Assange, help us to understand and remind us that we cannot blindly trust a world which collects our most private data.
It is through Marcus and DedSec that we hope to make all of our gamers aware of the reality of Silicon Valley and of our digital lives; and, perhaps, just like DedSec, incite them to ‘make a better world’ themselves.”